Are you considering a divorce? Orlando Legal can help you understand your rights during this difficult process. Alimony in Florida is governed by Florida Statute 61.08.
For all cases pending on or filed after June 1st, 2010 a new alimony statute will apply. The statute contains several important changes to the existing statute. First, the statute formally two additional forms of alimony, “bridge-the-gap” alimony and “durational” alimony in addition to the previously recognized forms of temporary, permanent and rehabilitative. The statute also allows for any combination of the above mentioned forms of alimony if necessary.
If you have an alimony award entered prior to June 1st, 2010, the statutory changes will not provide a basis for changing your alimony award.
Second, the statute adds additional language which states that the Court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the Court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage. For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.,
(j) The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
In addition to setting forth the factors that the Court must consider in awarding alimony, the statute provides much clearer definitions of the types of alimony that the Court may award:
“Bridge The Gap” alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.
Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either:
1. The redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or 2. The acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.
In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony. An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with Florida Statute 61.14 based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set 126 period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances in accordance with Florida Statutes 61.14. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration, following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the factors set forth above or following a marriage of short duration if there are exceptional circumstances. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship in accordance with Florida Statute 61.14.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Alimony
Q. I was served with a Motion for Contempt for non-payment of alimony, can I be put in jail?
A. Yes. A Motion for Contempt for failure to pay alimony is treated the exact same way as a Motion for Contempt for failure to pay child support. The Court views both alimony and child support as “support obligations” which are enforceable with sanctions including incarceration.
Q. How much alimony can I expect to pay my spouse?
A. The answer to this questions depends on numerous factors and there is no strict percentage of your income that the Court can award. Florida case law provides some limited guidance as to what amounts are considered “excessive”. While your judge has a significant about of discretion in awarding alimony, the following numbers have been found to be excessive under the particular circumstances of the respective cases: Thomas v. Thomas, 418 So.2d 316 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982) – holding that a combined award of child support and alimony which was 58% of spouse’s net income was excessive; Decker v. Decker, 660 So.2d 1162 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995) – holding that a combined award of child support and alimony which was 78% of spouse’s net income was excessive; Benenfield v. Benefield, 705 So.2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) – holding that a combined award of child support and alimony which was 80% of spouse’s net income was excessive.
Q. Can I obtain temporary support while my case is pending?
A. Yes. A Motion for Temporary Support allows the Court to award you temporary support while your case is awaiting a final resolution. It is very important to note that if you case is in Osceola or Orange County, you can not set a hearing on your Motion for Temporary Support without first going to mediation. This always results in a long lag time between the filing of the Motion and the actual hearing. There may be certain emergency situations which warrant a quicker hearing, but most judges are unlikely to order an emergency hearing based on financial issues. If you case in pending in Seminole County, you can set a temporary hearing in front of a general magistrate prior to going to mediation, but not in front of a judge. This solution has pros and cons which we can discuss with you prior to setting the hearing. Orange, Osceola and Seminole County all have a standing order governing dissolution cases which can be found here. This document is a Court Order with which all parties must comply. If your and/or your spouse violate provisions of this Order, you and/or your spouse can face sanctions from the Court.
Orlando Legal, located conveniently in downtown Orlando is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients. As Orlando Alimony lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible. Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Central Florida in Orange County, Osceola County and Seminole County. We have significant trial experience in handling alimony cases. We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process. Going through a divorce or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues.